by Davin Malasarn
"Her wedding ring didn't even have a real diamond," the sponsors whisper in the banquet hall of the university. But, the students know that the professor cut the quartz himself, labored for three weeks in the workshop with the ocular lens pinched between his brow and the top of his cheek, his hands trembling with love.He wears dress shirts even in the heat and stickiness of the Caracao region where he has taken the students on a fieldtrip. The workers at the petrol station present cashew fruits, yellow and orange, on blue plastic plates. "Obrigado, obrigado," the professor says with his Brooklyn accent. He leans down to smell the fruit. Their reflection paints his drooping cheeks in gold. His doughy smile delights the students because he is usually so sad and alone now that his wife is dead. "The world's leading mineralogist, and his wife's wedding ring didn't even have a real diamond," the sponsors whisper back at the banquet hall over lamb. There is lull in the conversation afterwards, and the sound of gold tinkling can be heard among the wrists and wine glasses. In Brazil, the professor tells each of the students to hold the fruit in their hands so he can take their photo.
Sugar Hill is surrounded by a ring of clouds like a halo. In the sky lift, they look through the glass to the horizon and a large sculpture of Jesus loving the country with open arms. Sarah Mildred happens to glance up through floaters and speckled glasses; she sees the professor gazing and smiling out at the infinite water; she wishes the sky lift would continue on, up and up and up; to heaven and his wife. But this is my day too, Sarah thinks. The time for the next generation to soak up this beautiful world. Not the bittersweet sadness that comes with age and buttoned shirt